An extraordinary personal brand is a set of messages, attitudes and behaviors that come together synergistically to help you enjoy better opportunities, make more money, command more influence, and help more people. What’s more, it helps establish you as a role model and leader in your field, which elevates you to a whole new level.

Of course, those are the benefits of an extraordinary personal brand. Most people don’t have one at that level yet; and some might not even have a personal brand at all (or at least not one that they’ve ever noticed). However, if you fall anywhere on this spectrum, then don’t worry. When it comes to improving – or possibly re-inventing – your personal brand so that it’s extraordinary, there’s no need to go searching for clues on where to start. You can simply borrow the playbook from the corporate world.

Indeed, have you noticed that the most trusted, valuable and beloved corporate brands share certain key characteristics? It doesn’t matter whether they’re established in the consumer retail space, the medical field, the IT industry, or anywhere else – when you set aside all of the differences, the best brands are always: unique, expressive, authentic, consistent and confident.

1. Unique

A “generic personal brand” is a contradiction in terms; yet this doesn’t stop many professionals from having one that is virtually identical to many others. This is a mistake of profound proportions! Your personal brand is your “professional DNA.” It should be all about you, and only you. Don’t be afraid to be different; on the contrary, leverage your differences to stand out from the crowd for all of the right reasons.

2. Expressive

Your personal brand should convey key messages that express who you are, where you’ve been – and most importantly — where you’re headed tomorrow. Be willing to communicate your personal brand in a variety of ways, and to a variety of audiences. If Shakespeare was right and “all the world’s a stage,” then your personal brand is a microphone. What will YOU express?

3. Authentic

Make your personal brand attractive. Make it engaging. Make it interesting, unforgettable and bold. But no matter what, make it authentic! And you achieve this by embracing and expressing your values and principles. What do you stand for? What do you care about? What do you consider essential about you, and about the contribution you aim to make? Let authenticity shine through your personal brand, and you’ll be amazed at the impact you have on like-minded people who want to be part of your story.

4. Consistent

Whether you’re presenting at a conference, enjoying a casual lunch with clients, creating your LinkedIn profile, or doing anything else where your personal brand makes an appearance, ensure that you’re consistent. This doesn’t mean that you must choose the exact same words and repeat them mechanically. Rather, it means the core, underlying message should be consistent in look, tone and style, and that your visual should match your verbal. Here’s the litmus test: connect with 10 different people in 10 different settings. If all of them share the same impression of your personal brand – not the exact words, but they feeling, the impact and the key takeaways – then you’re being consistent.

5. Confident

As a corporate A-player, you’re certainly “in it to win it.” But is your personal brand in alignment with that ambition; or, could it be undermining your aspirations? Ensure that your personal brand is confident and self-assured. Clearly convey that you believe in yourself and in your potential. After all, if you don’t, how can you expect anyone else to?

The Bottom Line

Provided that the quality of your work is excellent, and that you’re committed to adding value to everything you do and everyone you meet, an extraordinary personal brand can take your career to unimagined new heights. But it can only start with you. So ask yourself: are you ready, willing and able to be extraordinary?

There’s a small shop near my summer house that sells rafts, boating supplies and bouncy floatables to the vacation crowd who flock here every year to enjoy life on the lake. Their prices aren’t cheap, they have a decent selection of products, but from the minute you walk in the store you notice something wrong.

Terrible customer service.

We went to look at rafts and engaged the staff, from the manager to the owner, and what we noticed was true. Customer service was frightful. It wasn’t just their individual attitudes, but collectively it was horrifying. I was ready to walk out, but my friend wanted to buy a raft and was willing to pay full price.

Would they take the raft down so we could see it. NO. Could we look at it to see if it was the right size for the kids. NO. No seemed to be the only response and snarky disrespectful growls didn’t win any points.

We took the raft home and my teenage niece told us how to fight back. 

“Click on their Ad words and tell all your friends to do the same,” she said. “It could cost them thousands.”

At first, I chuckled then thought about it. She was right. If there’s an ad campaign for their company and they’re spending money on Google Ad words, she’s got a point.

I didn’t do it and suggested to the entire family and CEO friend who was irked as well, to let it go.

Truth is: One angry customer who felt violated, ripped off and annoyed at disrespectful lip service and attitude could cost a business money, and lots of it – especially if the business is buying Ad Words.

My take away from this experience and advice to small business owners?  Spend time in training and adopt an attitude of “How can I help you?”

We travel frequently and visit top hotels and restaurants (at great discounts) and companies who care spend time and money training their staff – to make a positive impression, keep a customer for life and create an experience that makes them feel special.

You don’t have to be a top hotel to do this – you or your company can have great customer service.

Hey, no one’s perfect. But from my experience and other’s feedback, this raft store on the shore of America’s oldest summer resort in America doesn’t give a hoot.

I wish they would.

I wanted to share an article I wrote about sponsoring events, as it’s often a great way to get eyeballs and you know what in seats. I published it a while back, but the content is just as valid today as it was then. Hope you enjoy!

As you may already know, sponsorship opportunities can be a cost-effective way to build equity in your company’s brand, which in turn helps drive increased market share, mind share, sales, revenues and profits.

However, while sponsorships can be very rewarding – whether by lending your company name to an event, participating as a joint venture partner/underwriter, or through any other vehicle – it’s wise to “look before you leap” and ask yourself these 7 questions to help ensure that the effort is a win for everyone involved:

  1. “Is this a good fit for us?” Evaluate the fit between the sponsorship opportunity and your company’s mission and goals. There should be clear alignment.
  1. “Will we reach the right people?” As with any marketing idea or project, you want to ensure that this sponsorship opportunity will let you engage the right target audience for where your company is right now in its strategic marketing plan.
  1. “Can we make this happen?” Despite you and your team’s best intentions and efforts, you need to take into consideration a number of logistical, financial and administrative factors, including: timing, expense, logistics, workload, and staff. Think with you head AND your heart!
  1. “What kind of support is available?” Do some research on the event organizers to see what kind of support is available. Will they co-produce marketing material to offset your costs? Can they give you access to discounted media rates? It’s also a good idea to ask for testimonials from other satisfied sponsors.
  1. “Who will we be up against?” Find out which other brands are involved in the event, and if there are any speakers (e.g. workshops, lectures, etc.). Pay particular attention on whether any of these people might enhance or, in some cases, may detract or damage your brand.
  1. “How many people will we connect with?” Find out how many people have registered, and whether there’s a guarantee on the number who will attend. Also look into how the event is being promoted, and whether your company will be featured as part of that effort.
  1. “What’s the ROI?” While there are many different ways to measure ROI (much to the bane of some CFOs out there), the important thing to confirm is that there is, in fact, an ROI that makes sense per your strategic marketing plan. For example, if your goal is to increase top-of-funnel leads by 15% next quarter, then see how the potential sponsorship opportunity supports that. Or, if your priority is to increase brand recognition by 20% among your key demographic, then evaluate the opportunity through that lens. Whatever your goal, the point here is that you want to think about ROI before you commit to sponsoring – not after.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, all 7 questions above point to one clear piece of advice: do your homework! That doesn’t mean you should spend weeks or months analyzing every potential sponsorship opportunity. However, it does mean that it’s clearly in your best interest to position your brand for maximum success – and that includes measuring results and conducting a “lessons learned” after each event, so that you’re constantly getting better at the sponsorship game, year after year.

Last week I was invited to the MIT Sloan Graduation. It was my first time attending and I looked forward to not only seeing our graduate walk, but hearing the guest speaker, Matt Damon.
The reason I’m writing about this is important.
Wherever you go and have an audience of at least one, you’ve got a PR opportunity. Matt Damon, a kid from the hood turned movie star crafted an engaging story and weaved humor, smarts, his experience and desire to make an impact on this world at MIT graduation.

The stage was his personal PR platform to deliver a message and call to action, as well as educate the audience about his own project, Water.org. Funny, engaging and not jokingly poking fun at the banking system, Matt was authentically Matt.  His take and mine: You don’t need to be a movie star to be who you are and make an impact.  

A few takeaways from Matt Damon’s commencement address at MIT:
  • “Go out and do really interesting things, real or imagined because this world has some problems and you need to drop everything and go solve them.
  • Turn toward the problems you see and don’t just turn toward them.  Engage with them.  Walk right up to them, then look yourself in the eye and decide what you’re going to do about them.
  • There’s a lot of trouble out there, but there’s a lot of beauty too. I hope you see both.
  • You’re going to fail sometimes and that’s a good thing. The world wants to hear your ideas, good and bad, but you need to keep listening.
  • And, there’s not always a high-tech solution (or an app) for everything.”
If you’d like to watch the commencement, click here.

Ready to take action? Use your platform wherever it may be to share your message. If it matters to you, chances are it matters to someone else.

One by one, we all can make a difference.

A recent client asked for a promotional strategy to promote her event and though it varies by industry, target audience and personal preference, I found certain similarities and tasks that needed to be completed.  I thought I would share some of them with you as an overview of what you’ll want to think about. Keep in mind that this is a sampling for a local event, not an entire plan of social media, onsite event strategy and presentation preparation.

Sample PR Checklist for Your Upcoming Event  

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Now, the bigger the event the more promotion you’ll need to fill the room. There’ll be website promotion, Twitter mention and strategy as well as being part of a social media support group who will co-promote on your behalf.  There are also Facebook posting opportunities on your personal and business page and the possibility to boost content where it counts the most.

LinkedIn promotion may also be considered if appropriate on your own page as well as in groups you belong to. You can also ask for plugs from clients and event organizers, and distribute flyers at networking groups and speaking gigs.  Heck, even friends of friends in your inner circle will say a good word if you ask them to help out.

No matter what promotional tactics you use, never underestimate the power of picking up the phone. Many would rather die than call. I’d rather call than die.  Make 50 calls a day and you can get used to anything.

I’ve got 10 pages of ideas that I could share with you, but it would get too detailed and I want you to feel inspired, not bogged down with a giant PR and marketing plan and to-do list. There’s a wheel house of strategies that can be used over and over again. Some will work, others will fail miserably. But, you have to try.

Holding an event is an investment in showcasing your expertise and building your business. Be sure you have enough help to promote your event online and offline, before the event, during the event and post event. And even though the event ends, you’ll still be promoting the content in one way or another, your next workshop, upcoming speaking gig, new products and services – and the list goes on.

Be it free or paid, creating and hosting an event takes courage and promoting it to the right audience, who likes, knows and trusts you – as well as finds value in what you teach, makes all the difference in the world.

The first step in planning an event is making the decision to have an event. The step isn’t really a step though. It’s a quantum leap in promoting who you are and the courage to speak your truth.

Teach to reach!

My tagline is “Don’t Be the Best Secret in Town” and it’s no secret that I love to teach small business owners, experts, authors and professionals how to promote your business and brand. Why? I’ve studied and practiced PR and promotion for over two decades and it comes naturally to me.  I also love to see people succeed and share their gifts so they can sell more products and services.

Even though there are hundreds of ways to promote yourself, there are a few timeless principles that I’d like to share.

1)  Go outside your comfort range and step into the brand you want to be. If that means faking it until you make it, go for it. The feeling is what you’re going for, hand in hand with inspired action. Determine your core values and make every decision from there. You won’t go wrong.
2)  Keep moving forward. We all get discouraged and may want to hide in bed, but that’s precisely when you have to jump back up and restart the engines. There isn’t one flower that I know of that blooms 365 days a year.
3)  Make a dedicated effort to learn. There are countless videos, programs, articles, webinars, classes, and experts in your subject field that know more than you. That’s a good thing. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. I’d rather grow today, thank you.
4)  Acknowledge that you’re an expert in training. We can all learn from one another and even the smallest piece of advice that you take, digest or tweak can move your business in the right direction. Sometimes these experts are disguised and are at networking meetings at 7am. Set your alarm clock for 5:30.
5) Hang with, hire or be a part of a group that’s smarter, richer and more successful than you. You’ll get to where you want to go quicker when you listen to the voice of experience. It’s worth the time, effort and money to hear how others have accomplished goals.
I would add that you want to be accountable to yourself, a group you’ve put together or a Mastermind. But, don’t underestimate the power of a mentor or coach who you trust. Find the right one and they can transform your life and business. You still have to do the work though!
Oh, and write down your goals. When you follow these timeless principles and put pen to paper, or pen to pictures, you’ll become a manifesting machine.

I’m a believer of press releases to get the biggest bang for the buck when there’s a major announcement, release of a book or breaking news.  But, you don’t always have to spend an arm and a leg for its distribution. There are cases when I advise clients to go national and get the widest exposure possible for all the media hits, and other times, the press release can simply be a PR tool for the media via a link on the client’s press page. Both work.

There are varying views on the press release and that’s always refreshing. Mike Butler, journalist and technology commentator shares his thoughts on The Press Release is Dead – Use this Instead. In this article, Butler spells out key information to send a reporter, not just an “OK, here it is” press release. His questions are spot on, his humor puts a smile on my face and I like his style. Read this and you’ll understand what the media is looking for, what they’re not looking for (ie, pdf’s, attachments) and how to pitch via Twitter, which by the way works.

Steve Cody’s article, published in Inc.com gives us 5 Reasons the Press Release Isn’t Dead Yet. I agree with his findings, and you might too. Press releases aren’t just an antiquated business tool, even if you think they are.  They offer legitimacy, a steady stream of news and they break through the clutter.  How is that?  Read more here.

And lastly, Julie Crabill posts a great piece at Mashable.com, 4 Alternatives to Your Next Press Release. First, are you telling a story or just sharing news? Consider producing a short video for Facebook, coming up with a customized #hashtag or designing visuals to share on relevant social media platforms. Then, there’s always going deep. Take a look at what she means.

You can think what you like, but keep in mind that there’s not always just one way to share news. I’ve always liked a mix of marketing, PR, promotion and media to tell a story, with more than a dash of visual, be it infographics, video, slide share, GIFS or graphics.

You can market yourself silly, but remember in PR, variety is the spice of life.

This morning, I got up at 6:00 am to launch my Q2 PR and marketing strategy and attend a Boston University Alumni breakfast networking event.  It’s part of a heavily promoted month-long career month to bring alums and professional together – and connect recent grads with seasoned professionals. (Did you like how I said that)?

It was my first networking event sponsored by BU, other than going to cheer on the Terriers in hockey, and I’m glad I went. Why?

Networking Opens the Doors for Opportunities

  • First, how great to see someone who knows and respects your work. A genuine smile and hug in a room full of strangers is almost always welcome. I’m a hugger, but if you’re squeamish, keep in the comfort of your own boundaries.
  • Networking gives you a chance to hear what others are doing in the marketplace and notice opportunities to connect, partner, refer, work or collaborate together. There were quite a few COM (communications) grads there and possibilities are brewing!
  • Meeting face to face with a brand new circle extends your promotional reach in ways you can’t imagine. It also reinforces your expert status with a whole new group that may one day –become raving fans.
  • There are no rules to revising your elevator pitch. Modify your message according to what you need in the present moment, and the crowd. The elevator pitch police won’t have a warrant out for your arrest if you change it up.
  • Talk with people who may not be your target audience, because they might know someone who might be the perfect fit. Profiling isn’t always in your best interest.

My colleague, who I met while speaking at the Small Business Expo and at the Boston Business Journal enthusiastically endorsed me in front of a room full of strangers. Love that! Thank you, Joy! She’s involved with a new venture working with entrepreneurs and small business owners, and it happens that I’m speaking with her mentor on a national level this week.

From my meeting this morning, I already got invited to speak on a panel in early April and begin preliminary discussions of a potential world-wide tour.

If I didn’t get up at 6 am I would have missed this. Will other opportunities to increase my PR and marketing expertise show up?  Definitely.

Say yes more often than you say no and see what happens.

Oh, and set your alarm clock.

PS:  Sign up now for the Digital Marketing Weapons Event at  Sleek Marketing University on Saturday, 3/26. I’ll be speaking about How to Get Free Publicity for Your Business and Grow Your Brand. Use the code CONTACT for 50% off – since many of you were at the Constant Contact event where I spoke on March 1.

Want more info? Read these other articles on improving your online presence. 9 Cool Free Publicity Tools and Tactics,7 Easy Ways to Get Attention Without Selling Your Soul and How Do I Get More PR and Online Visibility  We’re all experts in training!

Today I’ll be speaking at Constant Contact about PR Power on a Budget. There should be about 100+ people in the room and I’m on first. All good with me.  I sent in my presentation last week, practiced and decided on an outfit, with a backup just in case.

Does What You Wear Make an Impression on Your Audience?

If you said no, I’ll beg to differ. If you said yes, you’re right! I always tell audiences, “you are your brand wherever you go” and it’s no different on stage. There could be a roomful of prospects that are interested in what you have to say and perhaps wonder what you could do for them. In my case, they want to see me at my best, and I want to give them my best. The total package. I’m also speaking about my passion, “How to Market Yourself” or a variation of the PR theme.  Clothes do count so wear them well and smile for the camera!

Here are 5 Tips on Styling for the Stage or Giving a Presentation and Elevate Your Brand:

  1. Always dress a few steps above your audience. You are the expert and should dress like one. If you’re speaking from stage and are any good, the audience wants to aspire to be like you. Confident and successful. And if you’re selling, it’s even more important. Play the part with your dress, attitude and aura. You’re probably not selling a $49 service.
  2. Many years ago, I made the huge mistake of wearing a red jacket with a leopard collar to a blue chip law firm for a Ryder Cup Event meeting.  I thought I looked jazzy, but the client apparently didn’t think so.  I should have worn a more stylized ‘dress code’ selection, but I didn’t even think about it.  If you’re going to give a presentation to a conservative client or firm, don’t wear the leopard collar. Find something appropriate and accessorize gently. Learn from my 5 figure mistake.
  3. If the audience can smell your cologne, perfume or moth balls from the stage, that’s bad. I’ve been in elevators where I’ve held my breath and the ride to the 30th floor almost did me in. Everything you do has to be brand on, and that includes how you smell.  It seems foolish to even have to mention, but I’ve been at 2 events lately where it mattered.  I suppose I didn’t have to sit in the first row.
  4. Shoes count, especially with women. Women check out other women’s shoes. In fact, women check out everything.  And ask questions like, who cuts your hair and other sometimes personal questions you might think off limits.  My advice, answer at your own risk, or not. You were brought up to answer questions, but you don’t always have to.
  5. Tight dresses and short skirts. Men check out how tight dresses are and how short skirts are, but women take it all in too. Needless to say, refrain from daisy duke dresses and ladies, wear Spanx. Also walk in from the side of a room if you have the chance.  I talk about it in my upcoming book, why. Hmmm.

A few other suggestions.  Men, be sure that your pants are zipped because there’s nothing more horrifying than to have your fly open on stage.  No joke, not that I look, but I saved two speakers from a very embarrassing moment and let’s just say they were grateful.  And ladies, make sure that you have extra pantyhose, because runs really do look bad on stage. And the pink polish to stop the run, is so yesterday.

Wake up extra early too and get to your location well ahead of time. Have 3 copies of your presentation in different places or devices. As another piece of advice, just keep the most recent version. I once delivered a presentation to 300 people and it was a near final draft with notes I made to myself.  When I realized it on stage, I covered my mouth in horror then laughed. It was the most authentic presentation I ever gave and one of the most successful.

Go figure.

Style up your brand. Speak to build an audience. And have fun.

Life is short and you can’t be working all the time.

PS – Remember I gave 2 talks to University Students in Puerto Rico? The University of Puerto Rico had a television crew before my event and did a news segment on me, in Spanish and English.  I never expected it, but it was fun.  You can snag publicity while you’re on vacation! I’ll post the interview on Twitter. Follow me @RobinSamora.

Having a solid intention lights a fire of purpose and power.  And, in PR and marketing, it’s no different. How you do anything is how you do everything, so why not start strong at the get-go with PR that will help you build your brand and business, make a real difference in the way you’re presenting yourself and bring in results!

I love this article by Cheryl Conner, The 7 Keys for Purposeful Public Relations in 2016. She refers to her friend and colleague Val Hale, who’s written a book, “Living a Life that Matters” and uses his same principles as it applies to public relations. Here are a few that make total sense and are rules to live a life by: Be a doer not a spectator, make a difference in other’s lives and be a lifelong learner. The others are here. (worth a read)

Marijane Funess, gives us her recommendations for a masterful LinkedIn strategy in Top 10 PR Best Practices for LinkedIn. Even if you think you’re a superstar, you may want to skim the article. Are you telling journalists who you are? Are you asking questions and answering them for others? Are you seeking recommendations from others? According to the author, recommendations beget more recommendations.  Check out her other tips to get out there purposefully.

And finally, are you using your own team and employees to maximize your brand? How often do we all forget that communication leads to consistency – and ultimately more business! Read Maurizio Tiberi’s article for Online Branding Best Practices and check out your Brand Smarts.

PR on Purposes starts with making a decision to get involved.

It doesn’t have to be a chore, make it fun!

PS – Are you interested in learning in a group setting?  I’m thinking of starting a PR mastermind of six (6) entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to take their business and brand to the next level. Let me know if you’re interested or know of someone who is. Write me at Robin@RobinSamora.com or call (617) 921 – 3448. More details to come.